Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hello Goodbye

She was sitting on the thinly carpeted floor, legs crossed and reading a book, when I turned the corner of the literature section and saw her. Her purse lay on its side next to her, contents spilling out. She didn't seem to care, or possibly hadn't yet noticed, me or the purse. She was blocking the poetry section, maybe because she figured nobody ever visited these books, or maybe because she simply did not care. Either way, she was blocking me. I was here for Sexton.
     "Your purse threw up," I said. An electronic dictionary/thesaurus had slid out, along with a guitar pick, a beer coaster, a cell phone, and a little plastic monkey.
    She turned from her book and glanced over at her purse. She looked up and said, "Thanks, guy." She put the remaining items back into her purse and pushed it between her legs just as her cell phone beeped. She ignored it and continued with her book. She was here for Neruda.
     At the indoor coffee cafe on the other side of the store a man could be heard swearing at a girl behind a cash register. He wasn't using his indoor voice when he gave his opinion on how much a 16oz cup of "lukewarm" coffee should cost, and now everyone else in the store knew how he felt too. It was a vulgar attempt at side-stepping consumerism and his repoire made me want to leave poetry, locate the section on weaponry, find the biggest book on the subject, and slam it against his face. Apparently my anger was shared by a man standing nearby, as the situation quickly turned into a scuffle and security was called.
     I turned my attention back to my aisle. She was still reading Neruda, seemingly unaffected by the loud outburst that had just taken place. Her hair was dark brown, long and pulled back in a pony tail. She wore a fluffy white blouse and mango colored corduroys. Mostly, I could picture her and I feeding seagulls together, laughing as they swooped down to retrieve each new offering, crying as they flew away.
     Without looking up from her book, she started talking, "My brother used to always backtalk and yell at my mother until one day my father caught him doing it. He grabbed my brother around the neck, dragged him into the living room, pulled the biggest hardback he could find from the family bookshelf, and turned his ass inside out for the next four minutes. I know it lasted four minutes because I was sitting in the corner chair the whole time, listening to Sister Christian by Night Ranger in my headphones. Length of punishment equaled duration of song. I turned the volume up loud enough to drown out the sound of my crying brother, but I could still hear and feel the impact of the book each time it connected with his reddening bare ass. Toward the end my father's arms grew tired, and while his delivery remained sharp and powerful, his aim faltered and the corner of the book would sometimes graze my brother's ass, leaving long, red welt lines that looked like worms crawling across fevered skin. My dad never noticed me sitting there."
     She paused for a moment and flipped through a few pages before speaking again, "Fast forward to present day. I'm 31 now, and the only way I can orgasm during sex is if that song is playing loudly and I am being violently spanked. It's amazing how fragile our early years are, and how all it takes is a four minute moment to completely affect an adult life. "
     "Which book?" I asked her.
     "Pablo Neruda," she answered as she flipped over the book she was holding so I could see it.
     "No, no.. I meant which book did your dad use on your brother?"
     "Oh, it was one of those giant Do It Yourself home improvement books. Like the ones you see for sale at Lowe's Hardware and such."
     I spotted Sexton down near her knee and excused myself as I retrieved the book from the shelf. Her complete life's work in 600 pages, her words waiting to be read. She knew Plath. They were friends against doctor's orders. Gas, pills, poetry... c'est la vie, ladies.
     Now it was her turn to look at me while I peered into a book. "So you like poetry, huh?" she asked. "Can't say I know many boys who like poetry. And when they do like it, they typically say so using a fat tongue stuck in a warm cage. I have to pee." She stands up and brushes out the creases in her clothing. She is beautiful and my heart feels like it sprinted seven flights of stairs. We are in the poetry section together. Her eyes are mildly grateful and she has to pee. If I don't say something right now, she will leave.
     "Why the monkey?" was all I could think to say.
     She smiled thinly and asked me who my favorite poet was. I told her it was a three-way tie between Bukowski, Plath and the man she held in her hands. She smiled again and asked me to prove it. I removed my backpack, reached in and pulled out the very book she was holding. I stood next to her, shoulder to shoulder, and rifled through my copy so she could see the marks I made on all my favorite poems. I looked back and saw her fishing around inside her purse.
     "Here, you can have it," she said as she handed me the plastic monkey. "Did you know the oil of freshly picked cashews is highly caustic to the skin until you roast them? Our soldiers in WWII used to call them Blister Nuts, but I call them Monkey Nuts because it's a favorite food of monkeys in Africa." I told her I didn't know that and thanked her with a smile as she began to walk away. I looked down at the plastic monkey. It was fat and slightly heavier than it appeared and I noticed a dividing line where the head and neck met the rest of the body. I twisted it and the two halves separated from each other, and inside the belly was a handful of roasted cashews. I smiled and looked back up. And as I spotted her walking across the store I stood there watching her go, gently holding my nuts in my hand.

***

"Sister Christian
Oh the time has come
And you know
That you're the only one to say
O.K.
Where you going
What you looking for
You know those boys
Don't want to play no more
With you
It's true

You're motoring
What's your price for flight
In finding mister right
You'll be alright tonight"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes You Gotta Shake It Up

I won't embed the video in my blog, I refuse to. If you want to actually watch the clip of what I'm about to discuss, then you have to make the individual effort to find it online and see for yourself. That being said, I am questioning whether or not it's okay to generalize in certain situations. In this case, I find myself loathing an entire country over one isolated incident. The story has swept across the mainstream news channels so I'm sure you've at least heard about it by now: a 2 year old girl in China was run completely over by two different vehicles, and for the next seven minutes a wall-mounted CCV camera captured 18 different people casually walking (or riding bicycles) by her without the slightest care or concern while the little girl lay writhing in pain and dying at their feet.

I am disheartened and sickened with emotion. As I watched one passerby after another ignore the little girl, tears began welling up in my eyes, and by the time she was run over for a second time I was full-on crying and had to click the video off. What is the explanation for that many adult humans choosing to walk around the outstretched arms of a child who is bleeding and broken on the pavement and crying out for help? Is this a societal flaw of mainland China or China as a whole? Or is it more global than that? Could this happen in America? Canada? Germany? I really don't know. I hear so many sickening news stories that take place all over the world, but none has unsettled me more than this one. I really don't want to write/think about it anymore.

Since I began this blog entry in the most depressing manner possible, I will do my best to end it in a confetti explosion of laughter and smiles. Is everyone on board with that? Of course you are, you dirty ditches. Moving on...

Do you remember the the sexual revolution that occurred in the exercise and fitness market several years ago? If you've forgotten, don't worry, here's a reminder video clip:
Yes that's right, the Shake Weight! I was fairly certain that a newer, sexier product would eventually cum along and send the Shake Weight packing, and guess what dear readers, that time has finally cum. Allow me to introduce you to the Free Flexor:
I don't blame you if you couldn't stomach watching the entire advertisement, so I'll go ahead and tell you that at 1:28 this gem of a quote is said, "Once you start getting the momentum swinging, it starts to go deep." Haha, oh boy. Now, as if the actual ad isn't funny enough, here's a clip I found that does a hysterical job of tying the two products together. Allow me to introduce the Shake Weight, the Free Flexor, and of course... Hitler:
Okay, I think I've played around with Youtube long enough for one blog. Moving on...

The last thing I'd like to talk about is a conversation I heard on the radio the other day. Halloween is coming up, and in the eyes of many Christians, this holiday is a concerted celebration for all Atheists and Pagans. Maybe so, I don't really care, what I do care about is what I heard a televangelist (Pat Robertson) say to a caller who asked whether or not his church should celebrate Halloween by putting on a haunted house for children. Pat's response was this: "Christians believe in God. We don't believe in ghosts or the dead walking amongst the living or any of that crap. It's wrong for your church to celebrate this holiday." Hmm, Christians don't believe in ghosts or the dead coming back to life? So much for the trinity (father, son, holy ghost) and so much for the entire story of Jesus. Jesus Christ, Pat, did you not think that one through? At all? Hahaha, oh boy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

No Colored's Allowed

It's Saturday Song Salute, but before I reveal today's song I think I'll tell you a story first. This is a story of misunderstanding, please enjoy:

This story takes place in Carney's Point, New Jersey in the restaurant section of a Days Inn just off the highway. It is late Saturday morning and many of last night's travelers have long since risen and eaten breakfast, but my family is getting a late start to a new day because we had clung to the previous night dearly and did not want to let it go. We have shuffled down to the dining area and are greeted by two dozen tables covered in the remnants of breakfast, so we choose the least cluttered table and seat ourselves. After a few minutes an exhausted looking waitress appears at our table. She is young, probably still in high school, and she offers a smile that fools none of us before asking what we want. And I'd like to be clear on her line of questioning, "What do you want?" was her exact phrasing.

Pancakes with blueberries. Three eggs, scrambled. Bacon. No, make that sausage. Coffee.
Okay, and you?
2 eggs over easy. Wheat toast. Coffee, cream and sugar.
Okay, what about you?
Western Omelet. Fried potatoes with hot sauce. Toast. Orange juice.
And you?
Chocolate milk. Fruit plate. Toothpicks. Egg whites. A straw.
Toothpicks are by the magazine rack.
Oh, and a coloring book and crayons for the kid. And can I change the sausage back to bacon? And instead of scrambled, can I get fried eggs instead?
Fine. It's gonna be awhile, we got swamped during "regular" breakfast hours and the cook has already started shutting down the grill. You'll just have to wait.

And then she walks away. Soon we are greeted by another young worker who has introduced himself as Rashon. He too is young, most likely still in high school, and is a good looking lightly-colored black man. He excuses himself politely as he reaches onto the table and begins to remove the dirty dishes and left-over food. While he performs the tasks Days Inn demands of him, I begin my discussion of where I would like to hang out and drink once all the cousins show up later in the day. Ideas get tossed around the table and mom & dad recommend places they used to frequent when they lived near here so many years ago.

Gentry's Tavern and Jack's Place have long since shut down, man. Those cats ain't been around since I was in pre-school. Roshon says.

What about Elmer's? They still open?
Yeah man, but you don't wanna go there, the owners, they a bunch of racist pricks. They got a sign on the main door, before you even enter the foyer, that reads "No Colored's Allowed".
Holy shit, I exclaim.
Yeah man, that place is hated by me and all my friends. We often talk about doing sumthin bout it, but of course we never will.

Rashon leaves carrying an armful of dirty dishes as we begin to discuss the astounding nature of what he has just told us. No Colored's Allowed? On the front door of an establishment that exists in the year 2011? It can't be. We refused to believe it, but Rashon's emotion was evidence that this kind of racism still blatantly exists today. The conversation resumed as he returned for a second round of table tidiness.

Yeah man, the parking lot is always full of motorcycles, you know, the sort that would love to lynch a brother and laugh about it over a beer an hour later.
It just can't be, I don't believe it.
Believe it, man, I saw it with my own two eyes. No Colored's Allowed. It's a large white sign with black BOLD lettering. First thing you see before going in.

I thought about it for awhile longer as Rashon began to set out clean dishes for us. Plates, forks,  spoons, cups, napkins. He glanced at my nephew and mentioned how cute he was. We all agreed. And then suddenly it hit me.

Wait a sec, Rashon, tell me something, did that sign specifically say No Colored's Allowed or did it say No Colors Allowed?
Um, it said No Colors Allowed.
I smiled and sat back in my chair. I looked at my family and smiled. I had figured it out. I looked up at Rashon and told him that he had misread the owner's intentions. He stared at me blankly while I explained.
Motorcycle gangs wear "colors" to represent their affiliation. The sign on the door is a warning to motorcycle gangs that they are not allowed to wear their "colors" while they are in Elmer's Bar.
No Colors Allowed.

Well I'll be a son-of-a-bitch, ain't that some shit. All this time, and I thought...
Heh, it's okay Rashon, that's a hell of a misunderstanding that I can easily see how you made. I'm glad you and your friends didn't burn the place to the ground.
I'm real glad too. Thanks man, for bringing that to light. It has been a serious source of irritation for many black folk round these parts. You have no idea what you've just done by shedding a light on the subject.

                                                                           ****

Okay, my Saturday Song Salute goes out to Ben Harper for his song titled Amen Omen. It's a timely pick for me, seeing how I somehow managed to find myself in another failed relationship. Yay, go Mick. In Amen Omen, Ben Harper captures all the emotion of a break-up that is based upon a strong love, and if you can listen to it without having the hairs on your arms stand straight up, then I must assume you are an alien to this musical world. Here, just give it a listen (I apologize for the vampire video that accompanies it, I couldn't find an official video version of the song. My suggestion is right click the link and open in a new tab, that way you can avoid watching it but still hear it):

Amen Omen

Lyrics:

What started as a whisper,
Slowly turned in to a scream.
Searching for an answer
Where the question is unseen.
I don't know where you came from
And I don't know where you've gone.
Old friends become old strangers
Between the darkness and the dawn

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

I still hear you saying
"All of life is chance,
And is sweetest,is sweetest when at a glance"
But I live,
I live a hundred lifetimes in a day.
But I die a little
In every breath that I take.

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

I listen to a whisper,
Slowly drift away.
Silence is a loudest,
Parting word you never say.
I put I put your world
Into my veins
Now a voiceless sympathy
Is all that remains.

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

Amen omen,can i find the strength within

Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street (List Of Demands)

 Below is a working proposed list of demands by Occupy Wall Street (OWS):

Below is a list of proposed "DEMANDS FOR CONGRESS":

"The Sovereign People's Movement, represented nationally through the people occupying the various Liberty Square locations across this great country, have laid out and democratically submitted and are currently voting on the list of following Demands to then be distilled into one Unified Common demand of the people."

"Participate in Democracy and Have Your Voice Heard"

    LIST OF PROPOSED "DEMANDS FOR CONGRESS"CONGRESS PASS HR 1489 ("RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT" http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1489 ). THIS REINSTATES MANY PROVISIONS OF THE GLASS-STEAGALL ACT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass–Steagall_Act --- Wiki entry summary: The repeal of provisions of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act in 1999 effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. Most economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007–2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors' money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms. Here's detail on repeal in 1999 and how it happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass–Steagall_Act#Repeal .

    USE CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY AND OVERSIGHT TO ENSURE APPROPRIATE FEDERAL AGENCIES FULLY INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THE WALL STREET CRIMINALS who clearly broke the law and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis in the following notable cases: (insert list of the most clear cut criminal actions). There is a pretty broad consensus that there is a clear group of people who got away with millions / billions illegally and haven't been brought to justice. Boy would this be long overdue and cathartic for millions of Americans. It would also be a shot across the bow for the financial industry. If you watch the solidly researched and awared winning documentary film "Inside Job" that was narrated by Matt Damon (pretty brave Matt!) and do other research, it wouldn't take long to develop the list.

    CONGRESS ENACT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY BY REVERSING THE EFFECTS OF THE CITIZENS UNITED SUPREME COURT DECISION which essentially said corporations can spend as much as they want on elections. The result is that corporations can pretty much buy elections. Corporations should be highly limited in ability to contribute to political campaigns no matter what the election and no matter what the form of media. This legislation should also RE-ESTABLISH THE PUBLIC AIRWAVES IN THE U.S. SO THAT POLITICAL CANDIDATES ARE GIVEN EQUAL TIME FOR FREE AT REASONABLE INTERVALS IN DAILY PROGRAMMING DURING CAMPAIGN SEASON. The same should extend to other media.

    CONGRESS PASS THE BUFFETT RULE ON FAIR TAXATION SO THE RICH AND CORPORATIONS PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE & CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOP HOLES AND ENACT A PROHIBITION ON HIDING FUNDS OFF SHORE. No more GE paying zero or negative taxes. Pass the Buffet Rule on fair taxation so the rich pay their fair share. (If we have a really had a good negotiating position and have the place surrounded, we could actually dial up taxes on millionaires, billionaires and corporations even higher...back to what they once were in the 50's and 60's.

    CONGRESS COMPLETELY REVAMP THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION and staff it at all levels with proven professionals who get the job done protecting the integrity of the marketplace so citizens and investors are both protected. This agency needs a large staff and needs to be well-funded. It's currently has a joke of a budget and is run by Wall St. insiders who often leave for high ticket cushy jobs with the corporations they were just regulating. Hmmm.

    CONGRESS PASS SPECIFIC AND EFFECTIVE LAWS LIMITING THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS AND ELIMINATING THE PRACTICE OF LOBBYISTS WRITING LEGISLATION THAT ENDS UP ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS.

    CONGRESS PASSING "Revolving Door Legislation" LEGISLATION ELIMINATING THE ABILITY OF FORMER GOVERNMENT REGULATORS GOING TO WORK FOR CORPORATIONS THAT THEY ONCE REGULATED. So, you don't get to work at the FDA for five years playing softball with Pfizer and then go to work for Pfizer making $195,000 a year. While they're at it, Congress should pass specific and effective laws to enforce strict judicial standards of conduct in matters concerning conflicts of interest. So long as judges are culled from the ranks of corporate attorneys the 1% will retain control.

    ELIMINATE "PERSON HOOD" LEGAL STATUS FOR CORPORATIONS. The film "The Corporation" has a great section on how corporations won "person hood status". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SuUzmqBewg . Fast-forward to 2:20. It'll blow your mind. The 14th amendment was supposed to give equal rights to African Americans. It said you "can't deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process of law". Corporation lawyers wanted corporations to have more power so they basically said "corporations are people." Amazingly, between 1890 and 1910 there were 307 cases brought before the court under the 14th amendment. 288 of these brought by corporations and only 19 by African Americans. 600,000 people were killed to get rights for people and then judges applied those rights to capital and property while stripping them from people. It's time to set this straight.